Rainer Beneke was born in Hamburg, Germany, and came to New Zealand in 1984. He trained as a jeweller with Blair Smith, and at Otago Polytechnic School of Art. He now shares a Dunedin workshop with Ann Culy.
The mountains and the wonderful Central Otago landscape continue to be the inspiration for Rainer’s work. Creating jewellery mainly in precious metals, often a combination of gold and silver, his pieces reflect the landscape both in shape and surface. His innate knowledge of the metal’s possibilities gives him the ability to make timeless classic works.
"I am a metal jeweller working in silver, copper and gold. I live in an old gold miners village where nearby gold is still mined in small scale operations. I often use local gold, which I refine myself, in my jewellery. My preferred working processes are forging and various 'marriage of metals' techniques. Most of my jewellery is made entirely by hand tools including a hand driven "Archimedes drill". Only a small part of my jewellery is finished with an additional use of a motor polisher. I mainly make contemporary New Zealand jewellery reflecting my environment and society. But I also take joy in serving my local community with traditional jeweller's duties, i.e. wedding rings, shepherd's whistles etc. All my work is made in the studio which I built and share with another craftsman. The design of the building is based on old cottages of the district. I believe in the simplicity in daily life and that we become richer through wanting and having less, through valuing quality rather than quantity. I believe in beauty that does not need a description, in the perfection of an imperfect sea shell, in the playfulness of nature. I like to focus on beauty and harmony to promote positive change. The vastness of my living environment of Central Otago fills me with joy and energy."